Legal update: February 201904 February 2019

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REGULATORY

Tyre safety

A robust tyre management system should not be underestimated. According to the charity TyreSafe, over one particular five-year period, 5,375 road accident casualties were caused due to tyre-related incidents. Furthermore, tyres underinflated by as little as 6psi below the recommended level are estimated to require an extra 3% of fuel. Recently, DVSA has revised the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness (www.is.gd/yahodu), and included new tyre management criteria. Its approach is to take a risk-based approach to tyre management. Among other things, the guide issues updated recommendations in respect of the age of tyres and safety inspection intervals based on your tyre operation.

Good repute

Traffic commissioners have a serious role as gatekeepers for the haulage, bus and coach industries. This includes tackling disreputable operators. For example, traffic commissioner for Scotland Joan Aitken recently rejected a haulier’s application for an operator licence after he tried to deceive others into believing he had permission to run vehicles of genuine operators. Aitken stated that the applicant had no place in goods vehicle operation.

Financial standing: licence warning

Every operator applying for a licence must provide evidence of its financial standing (www.is.gd/gaxahi). Among other things, this universal requirement promotes fair competition, because it requires the same of every applicant. If an applicant can only show the required amount at the time of its application, the licence will normally be approved with the proviso that further financial evidence be sent through at a set later date. However, if that deadline is not met, the traffic commissioner may propose to revoke the licence. Although a number of options are open to the operator in that circumstance, Backhouse Jones recommends taking legal advice to obtain the best possible outcome.

Five low-emission zones in London

London mayor Sadiq Khan launched five new low-emission bus zones (LEBZs) across London on 16 November to tackle the city’s air pollution problem. The five zones are located between Camberwell and New Cross, Wandsworth and St John Hill, High Road Haringey to Green Lanes, Edgware Road to Maida Vale and the A12 Eastern Avenue to Homerton Road. To be allowed to operate in these specific areas, buses must meet Euro VI emissions standards. It is estimated that the launch of the five zones has required more than 1,400 buses across ten London boroughs to be replaced or retrofitted to guarantee the emissions standards are met. Setting up the new zones follows on from the launch of the original zones in 2017. Khan argues that this performance will enable the Greater London Authority to deliver 12 LEBZs across London boroughs before the end of the year, ahead of its 2020 target.

MOT reminders extended

Operators of both haulage vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles now have access to a passenger car tool to help with the regulatory management of their fleet. The free MOT reminders system provided by the government has been extended to cover these vehicle categories. For more information, see www.is.gd/xawada.

ECMT permit lottery expectations

The DfT paper ‘International Road Haulage Permits Guidance on Determining Permit Allocations’ (www.is.gd/jegoku) has revealed that the number of European Conference Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permits – which will be a necessity for hauliers to continue operating if a no-deal Brexit does occur – will be very restricted.

Fraud warning

A number of hauliers have been contacted by telephone by an individual claiming to be a certified High Court enforcement officer. The ‘officer’ gives a time when goods up to the value of a county court judgment (CCJ) entered against the company/individual, months or even years prior to receiving the call, will be seized. Hauliers then receive a second call soon after from the ‘officer’, explaining that if they settle for a smaller payment which can be paid immediately over the phone, goods will not be seized. The person making these phone calls is said to be well-spoken and likely to seem credible to the uninformed individual. This scenario is a scam. Of course, not every call operators receive relating to a CCJ will be fraudulent, but if they are not aware of court proceedings or judgments against them, then legal advice is again recommended. Backhouse Jones also advises reporting the matter to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, on 0300 123 2040 or at www.is.gd/roduse.

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